As gender queer and a person of colour I never know if someone is genuinely interested in me or if I’m just someone they are looking for to satisfy a curiosity or kink. There is constant fetishisation of marginalised communities because we are deemed “exotic”. This is also because we are different from the social norm. The fetishisation of communities is also heavily influenced by porn. This is intrinsically damaging because it immediately stereotypes people’s characteristics and appearances. There is not enough representation in the media to showcase marginalised communities as people with multifaceted identities. This means people are placed into categories. This leads to people categorising their interests which is inherently prejudicial. Whilst being fetishised because of my race and gender identity, I can also be disregarded. Queer hierarchy is rarely recognised. Some peoples “preferences” are racist, sexist and ableist. This needs to change, we definitely need to have more inclusivity whilst remembering not to tokenise individuals.
The constant idea of desirability runs through society, we are given more privilege and opportunity if we are deemed “pretty”. I am categorised as “femme” within the gay community and when I am skinny I am also categorised as a “twink”. This can either enhance my desirability or on the contrary, remove it. The further our bodies lie from a thin, white, able-bodied standard of beauty we are deemed less desirable. My appearance is different therefore people see is either as interesting or strange.
A lot of men like to use me to fulfil their sexual desires, they don’t see me as a person they see me as an object. It is interesting how some queer people find validation in the idea that a straight person is interested in them. Sometimes we still seek validation even if we are being fetishised. However, when someone you think will never like you, likes you, it does not make you feel full but it instead fills you with instant gratification. I know in the past I would have been filled with joy when an attractive man showed fascination towards me and I would have done anything for him even if was not in my best interest. I still find myself exhibiting such behaviour sometimes. This is such a toxic mindset to be in. We need to start being the love of our own lives. We need to stop settling.
We always find ourselves settling for the next best thing when in fact that isn’t truly what we need. We instinctively know we deserve better so why don’t we choose that option. Is it because of our desire to constantly please people? We need to stop ignoring our own potential. We need to surround ourselves with individuals that lift us up and support us. We need to all go on a journey of self acceptance and realise we are enough as we are.
Stop relying on someone else to validate you. Self love can manifest itself in so many forms and we need to find the form that benefits us the most. We do not exist to fulfill the expectations of society. We do not have to fit into stereotypes in order to be valid. Our identities are valid as they are. We should not need to act demure or shrink our personalities down to gain respect.
Sometimes it feels selfish to indulge in self care when there is so much going on in the world. However, if you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs some people do not have basic needs therefore their psychological needs will not be at the top of their priority this is equally the same with self-fulfillment needs. We must understand that we need to take care of ourselves because sometimes we suppress our identities in order to survive in society. When we are alone we are given the freedom to be what we want to be without restriction. This means we are free from society, free from labels and free from being a fetish.
Recognizing privilege is not a comfortable process, nor should it be. But, it’s a necessity none the less. Recognizing privilege means you will begin to understand that your societal, economical, sexual, racial or religious identification has not made your life any harder. In the meantime, people in marginalized communities need to embrace themselves and work together to stand against hate and not perpetuate it.